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Commodities R.I.P. as Leverage Vanishes, Growth Slows

Bloomberg – Commodities markets are heading for the biggest annual decline since 2001 as investors exit leveraged bets and slowing economic growth erodes demand for raw materials.

The value of the 19 commodities in the Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index fell $280.6 billion, or 43 percent, from its July 3 peak, a loss larger than their total worth two years ago, data compiled by Bloomberg show. UBS AG, the Zurich-based bank that bought Enron Corp.’s energy unit in 2002, plans to exit most commodity trading. About 15 percent of investors in Boone Pickens’s BP Capital LLC hedge fund may want their money back.

The same credit-market seizure that led to last month’s bankruptcy of New York-based Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the forced sale of Merrill Lynch & Co. is squeezing speculators who drove commodities to record highs. Slower expansion in the U.S., China and India is also undermining prices of crude oil, which fell 36 percent, and corn, down 43 percent.

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